The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a significant aspect of our human physiology. Its primary function is to help maintain homeostasis, which is the natural balance of biological systems in response to internal and external fluctuations that would otherwise cause the body to behave abnormally. Just like other systems in the body, there are ways you can strengthen and protect your ECS.
Wondering how you can strengthen your endocannabinoid system? Learn how the ECS works, plus five things you can do to strengthen your body’s ECS here.
How Does the Endocannabinoid System Work?
This intricate network of connectors is the largest group of neurotransmitters found in the human body. It is made up of cannabinoid receptors designated CB1 and CB2. The CB1 receptors correlate to our central nervous system – containing our brain and spinal cord.
And the CB2 receptors link to our peripheral nervous system, which includes muscles, limbs, skin, immune support, and other organ structures. These receptors become stimulated by receiving endogenous cannabinoids.
Our body naturally produces two types of endocannabinoids called anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-ag). When these endocannabinoids bind to their corresponding receptors, they transmit a signal that helps to regulate physiological functions, such as sleep, inflammation, and even neuron communication.
But our endocannabinoids are only around as needed. After sending their signals through the cannabinoid receptors, the ECS uses two types of metabolic enzymes – fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) and monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL). These enzymes break down the endocannabinoid molecules until the next time they’re needed.
Research shows that, in some cases, the endocannabinoid system may not function as it usually would. One option to assist is to incorporate phytocannabinoids into your routine regularly with CBD products or other cannabis-based means.
But beyond using plant-derived cannabinoids, there are several ways in which you can help your ECS function more appropriately – improving your wellness and enhancing the efficacy of your endocannabinoids.
How Can I Strengthen My Endocannabinoid System?
Here are some healthy and natural ways you can boost your endocannabinoid system:
Increase Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3’s are essential for the formation of CB1 receptors that attach to our central nervous system; these cannabinoid receptors also absorb the phytocannabinoid THC and the endocannabinoid 2-ag.
Omega-3 fatty acids are most abundant in hemp plants; particularly, hemp seeds have the best ratio of Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, which is similar to the ratio within the human body. Several types of seeds and fish oil contain a potency of Omega-3’s. But there are other ways regarding how food can stimulate the endocannabinoid system as well.
What Are Some Endocannabinoid-Boosting Foods?
Sure, there are supplements to complement everyday wellness. But are there foods that can help? And how do foods stimulate the endocannabinoid system? Foods such as hemp seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and flax seeds are high in Omega-3’s. You can also find an abundance of these fatty acids in anchovies, sardines, and eggs enriched with Omega-3.
Vegetables with high vitamin C sources, such as broccoli, cauliflower, green peppers, and spinach, can also help maintain your ECS. Vitamin C is a type of ascorbic acid and helps speed up the absorption of CBD. The human body cannot produce vitamin C naturally, so it’s essential to supply your body with it. And with CBD gummies with vitamin C, you can quickly and easily get both in one tasty treat.
Other foods include:
- Herbs – Lemon balm, oregano, cinnamon, cloves, hops, black pepper, and other types of herbs all contain the terpene beta-caryophyllene; it’s a substance that helps stimulate the CB2 receptors connecting to our peripheral nervous system.
- Chocolate – Cacao powder, a type of cocoa solid, has compounds similar to endocannabinoids on a molecular level. The compounds found in cacao can lead to increased levels of endocannabinoids by inhibiting their metabolic breakdowns. These cannabinoid-type compounds are most abundant in raw cacao and dark chocolate.
- Tea – Certain teas, such as turmeric tea, echinacea tea, and Camellia sinensis , have beneficial properties that can raise endocannabinoid levels, stimulate CB2 receptors, and help to restrict endocannabinoids from breaking down.
Physical activities present several benefits and advantages when it comes to living a healthier lifestyle. But there’s a connection between substantial endocannabinoids and exercise – mainly to increase the production of the endogenous cannabinoid anandamide.
Anandamide is a fatty acid-type neurotransmitter that attaches to cannabinoid receptors and incites feelings of delight or happiness; hence its name, deriving from a word in Sanskrit meaning joy.
Yoga, breathing exercises, and any other enjoyable workout routines can promote health and boost endocannabinoids. Even simple workouts are available that are specially tailored to amplify the effects of cannabis and vitalize the ECS.
Manage Stress Better
Prolonged periods of stress contribute to the deterrent of repairing and development of new endocannabinoid receptors. And increased amounts of cortisol – the stress hormone – interferes with the proper function of CB1 receptors.
Several activities are available that can lower stress and naturally boost your health, advance the function of your endocannabinoid system, and elevate how well cannabinoids work within the body.
What Are Some Stress-Lowering Activities?
It was mentioned earlier that exercising every day can help to energize the ECS; physical activities can also help to reduce stress if done freely and in an enjoyable manner. Research indicates that forcing yourself to exercise is interpreted as stress by the ECS, which may work against you if it leads to chronic stress.
Casually socializing can also help with reducing stress and strengthen ECS function. Studies using rats showed those that were socially isolated produced less endogenous cannabinoids in contrast to rats involved in social play grooming activities.
Other stress-reducing methods can include
- Meditation (try CBD and meditation for an added boost of calm)
- Spontaneous playing
Lower Alcohol Consumption
Drinking alcohol in moderation most likely won’t affect the function of the endocannabinoid system to the point of concern. However, binge drinking and heavy alcohol use can substantially reduce cannabinoid receptors' ability to process endocannabinoids properly.
Choose to either drink responsibly and with discretion or avoid drinking alcohol entirely to maintain endocannabinoid function – and for optimum health.
In contrast to endocannabinoids that are naturally created by our bodies, phytocannabinoids are cannabinoids synthesized in Cannabis sativa. And the two most common phytocannabinoids are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
CBD is non-intoxicating, and it typically binds to CB2 receptors, which also explains how useful CBD for immune support is; it cannot induce euphoric effects or a “high” feeling. Research on CBD shows that it has a plethora of benefits in maintaining health and wellness.
Hemp-based CBD products, which are derived from industrial hemp, contain little to no THC. They are also legal to purchase, sell, and consume throughout the United States based on federal law.
CBD is available in various forms, such as CBD oil tinctures, capsules, vape oils, topicals, gummies, and even CBD bath bombs. Each one has its advantage depending on your use, and utilizing different types regularly could yield adequate stability in your endocannabinoid system.
How to Protect Your Endocannabinoid System
Protecting your ECS involves knowing how to best absorb and process your levels of endocannabinoids, which will maximize the efficacy of the endocannabinoid system and any phytocannabinoids you choose to use.
Various methods can include regular exercising, a healthy diet containing Omega-3, less alcohol, using CBD products, and lowering stress. According to personal needs, some, if not all, may work best for you to boost endocannabinoid productivity and the strength of endocannabinoid receptors.
But as helpful as these suggestions are, it is best not to overdo it – neither one is meant to be a “cure-all” measure in enhancing the ECS to heal or prevent a severe health condition. And oversaturating your endocannabinoid receptors can have an opposite effect. All in all, taking the proper steps within your life to bolster your ECS is something we all can, and should, do on a daily basis.
Curious about even more content about CBD? Check out the cbdMD blog to stay in the know about all things CBD. From the endocannabinoid system and CBD to promoting better sleep with CBD, we cover a wide range of topics to better inform and educate everyone.